by Sally Mitani
Esquire Interiors is now selling furniture in the adjacent space on Jackson Road that used to be Hicks Cleaners. "Fabric furniture, upholstered furniture--because fabric is what we know. We don't do bedroom suites or dining rooms," says owner Ted Barron.
His father started Esquire Cleaners in Ypsi in 1952, and his mother added the drapery and upholstery business later as a safety net: "Wash and wear came out, and mom and dad freaked." When Ted took over the business, he phased out the dry cleaning and four years ago moved from Depot Town to his current spot in Scio Township: "All my customers were here."
The furniture is all from Norwalk, "an interesting company," says Barron, stretched out restfully on one of Norwalk's couches, his feet on a coffee table. ("I've slept here a few times, actually. It's been pretty busy getting this furniture business up.")
Norwalk is "two hours away, all American made." The Ohio company went out of business in 2008, only to be resurrected by twelve former employees. "They cleaned it up, they 'rightsized it'--yeah, I just made up that expression. Pretty good, isn't it? And they made it work. Today they're debt free. Last Wednesday, the president of the company was up here unloading the trucks."
A few accent pieces not made by Norwalk, like a console table from China, are also on display, though mainly to make the showroom look more like a real room. "My goal is to sell all American made. Dan [the president of Norwalk] says people around here just can't get enough American-made goods. He says the East Coast doesn't care, the West Coast doesn't care. The heartland people care."
By the way, Colette Hicks, who owned Hicks Cleaners, hasn't exactly retired. "She has a great niche business cleaning and repairing horse blankets."
Esquire Interiors, 5863 Jackson Rd., 663-7011. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. noon-4 p.m. esquireinteriors.com
[Originally published in March, 2013.]